The Hot Topic of Smoking
Written by: Rita
I love controversial topics, so I thought a post on this subject might get people talking. How do you feel about smoking on your favorite cruise ship?
I will be honest, I am a smoker, but it seems more and more cruise lines are not too friendly to us smokers these days. The areas you can smoke in are becoming less and less. I remember when I boarded Holland America’s Veendam for a TransAtlantic cruise from Tampa to Venice back in April of 2007. Without any prior warning, beginning with our cruise Holland America had tightened up their smoking policy. They removed all of the ashtrays from the tables in the small section of the outside Lido deck, where smoking had previously been allowed. They also started a rotation policy in the casino of smoking and smoke-free nights. There were a “hard core” group of smokers on that sailing who were pretty much up in arms about the changes … especially since Holland America offered no advance warning before implementing them. In fact, on the cruise right before this no such restrictions were in force. A friend who had been onboard the previous sailing told me that stewards began removing the ashtrays from the tables on the Lido while she and her husband sat there having a cigarette before disembarking.
Of course, to be fair, I have to say that the upset smokers were clearly in the minority. There were plenty of passengers onboard who were absolutely thrilled with the changes.
Lately, HAL has been distributing a survey to all guests asking smoking-related questions. Would you continue to sail Holland America if smoking were prohibited in most venues? Would you continue to sail the line if smoking were totally prohibited? … questions of that nature. Supposedly this survey will go on for a year, after which time decisions will be made based on the results. My feeling, and those of most other smokers I’ve talked to is that smoking will probably be greatly restricted, if not altogether eliminated at that time.
How do you feel about this? Does the smoking onboard the ships you sail bother you?
I’ve heard many people complain about balcony smokers. I would imagine that a good number of the people who opt for a balcony stateroom do so because one member of the party smokes, while the others do not. The balcony provides a place for them to indulge their “vice” without bothering the other people in the stateroom. Yet, when they light up on their balcony, they risk bothering other people who want to enjoy their own balconies without being exposed to second-hand smoke. This problem becomes even worse in the case of pipe or cigar smokers.
Carnival at one time had a smoke-free ship, the Paradise. I’ve heard conflicting reports about its demise. Some say that the ship was very profitable and sailed full just about every week. Others say the ship reverted back to normal smoking policies after it kept losing money week after week in onboard revenue. Supposedly the take from the bars and lounges, as well as the casino, was dismal. Supposedly non-smokers simply don’t drink and gamble as much as smokers do. Other people, however, claimed that the only reason Carnival removed the Paradise’s smoke-free designation was because the second Carnival ship that was doing regular Caribbean sailings was relocated elsewhere. Since the Paradise was to be the only Carnival ship left in the Caribbean, the cruise line executives felt that they would lose too many of those Caribbean passengers to other cruise lines if they kept the Paradise sailing as a smoke-free ship.
Of course, the days of the smoke-free Carnival Paradise were pretty long ago. So, what about today? Do you think a totally smoke-free ship could be profitable? Or how about this one — would you actually be willing to pay more for your cruise if you could sail on a totally smoke-free ship? Some of the cruise lines state that the simple reason they have refused to go entirely smoke-free is that the impact on onboard revenue would be too great on such a ship. I actually had one hotel manager tell me that his predecessor had made the bar area smoke-free in a couple of the lounges, and when he took over and saw the major decline in drink sales in those bars, he immediately switched them back to smoking venues. He claimed that it’s a simple fact in the industry that smokers tend to drink more. So, it would seem, at least to me, that if a ship was going to go either smoke-free, or at least highly restricted, they would have to demand a higher price in order to compensate for lost revenues. Would you be willing to forego cheaper cruises on other ships in order to sail a smoke-free one?
And, how about you smokers? Would you stop sailing a cruise line if they greatly restricted the areas onboard where you could light up? I heard via various message boards that Regent Seven Seas’ passengers were pretty hot when that luxury line eliminated smoking in the cabins and on balconies. Would you sail, for example, the ships of Azamara, Disney or Oceania — some of the most restrictive lines in terms of smoking?
If your cruise line told you that you could no longer smoke in your cabin or on your balcony, would you cancel your bookings with them? Or how about the casino or the bars? Would you frequent those venues if you couldn’t smoke?
Let us know what you think about this highly “inflammatory” issue.
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Posted: February 9th, 2009 under Rita.